By Kathy Savage
Being ready for emergencies requires basic planning and awareness of events that could lead to a loss of electricity, damage to your home or require you to leave your home for an extended period of time. Each event requires advance planning and at a minimum a plan for how you will live your life without major complications.
Emergency preparedness is not the first thing you think about in an emergency, so the first hurdle is devising a plan beforehand and making sure you have the basic necessities on hand to carry it out.
First, make sure you have your communication plan in place. Have the vital phone numbers you need to communicate with your family, friends and those who can assist you. Set up an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number on your phone. An ICE number will enable someone who does not know you to communicate with your designated ICE contact. In addition, have other important contacts in your phone.
The second step is to make a “go kit”. The kit should have three days of supplies that you need to live and stay healthy. Again, you need the basics. This kit should have your medications, a list of your medications, a change of clothes, a charger for your phone, a list of your important phone contacts, a flashlight, a radio that runs on batteries, and water. The idea is to have these items available, but not necessarily pre-packed. The kit should be able to be assembled in 10 to 15 minutes.
This assumes you may need to leave your house because of a loss of power or dangerous conditions. The items in the go kit should be enough to get you through a brief stay at a shelter or safe place until the emergency conditions pass.
In some emergencies, you may not be able to leave your home because you don’t have time to get to safety. In these situations you need a few items that will provide you a sense of wellbeing. You should have some canned goods in case you do not have access to a store, an up-to-date first aid kit, and a whistle in the event someone needs to find you in the dark.
In the event you can drive to safety, then you should have your car ready for emergency conditions. In addition to the go kit, you should have a common meeting place for those close to you. Driving to safety may require you have maps and even a few small snacks like granola bars. You will need to communicate where you are going so leave a note behind and send a text to your contacts if possible.
As an emergency plays out, it is important to stay comfortable, in winter by staying warm and in summer by keeping cool. In both seasons, you need to stay hydrated with plenty of water. Your go kit will have your medications; in the event you run out during the emergency, it is important to maintain a list of your medications. This is useful because your pharmacy probably will not have access to your medication list via computer and a hardcopy list of your meds will help them treat you in an emergency.
Kathy Savage, is a Nurse Practitioner for PACE at Element Care. For more information please call 1-877-803-5564 or visit www.elementcare.org. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.